Newly installed Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said Thursday his administration would focus on the exit plan of the Covid-19 pandemic and strategies to improve the situation of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB) cases in the country.
In a recent televised press briefing, Herbosa said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has instructed him to tackle the rising HIV cases among the youth and the prevalence of TB nationwide after the World Health Organization ranked the Philippines as ninth among countries in the world with the highest number of TB cases.
“ I have created action officers to concentrate on the problems about TB, HIV, and Covid),” he said, noting that the Department of Health is a big organization that “must be made efficient” through the digitalization of certain processes to better serve the public’s health care needs.
“I plan to digitalize the department so that financing and procurement, the delivery of services could be done through telemedicine, digital health, and digital methodology. That way, it would be more efficient and the budget for health would be used for those who are really in need),” he said.
On the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law, Herbosa assured the public that the DOH would ensure members of the marginalized sector would get free and quality services in public hospitals and health centers.
He added that the DOH would also support the Lab for All Caravan project of First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos which provides free medical consultation, laboratory tests, and medicines. “This is a good project because most of the diseases today are non-communicable diseases, which require laboratory tests. Sometimes, our fellowmen cannot afford them,” he said.
Herbosa officially assumed his post as the new Secretary of the Department of Health on Tuesday. He served as adviser to the National Task Force Against Covid-19 from 2020 to 2021 under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte.
He also served as DOH undersecretary from 2010 to 2015 under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, and as executive vice president of the University of the Philippines System from 2017 to 2021.
Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on Health Care (CBCP-ECHC) executive secretary Fr. Dan Cancino has expressed their support for Herbosa.
“The CBCP-ECHC shares a commitment with you to improve the health and well-being of the most vulnerable and marginalized,” Cancino said in an interview over the church-run Radio Veritas.
“We will journey beside you and all those working in the attempt to bring health to all, especially the many people, including children, who live on the periphery of society, and who suffer ill health and hunger.” He said having good health is the right of every citizen, not just a few.
On Tuesday, CBCP-ECHC vice chairman Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio congratulated Herbosa on his appointment, expressing hope that health issues that are important for the well-being of every citizen would be given attention. (PNA)